By Boni Garber – Horizon Opinion Editor
“Cleared for takeoff.” That is what many Hesston College aviation students have heard throughout this school year. With only a few more months before summer, students are spending more time in the sky in hopes to meet their desired benchmark licenses or ratings: Private, Instrument, Commercial or Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
At least six Hesston College students, many of whom are sophomores, will be spending the summer accumulating flight hours. Achieving a commercial license before graduation is a goal for many students. For sophomores Caleb Kandel and Kush Lengacher, staying the summer in order to achieve this goal is also an option.
“Inclement weather has a big part of why I’m staying to fly over the summer,” said Kandel. “But routine maintenance checks on the airplanes also kept me from flying.”
Summer school is not a concept embraced by many, but for a 19 year-old with over $30,000 worth of flight and ground school debt, meeting the flight time requirements is the absolute objective, even if that means spending the summer attaining that goal.
Quinn Bowers, a freshman at Hesston College who is working on his Instrument Flight, will also spend his summer flying in order to increase his flight hours. Pilots need 103 flight hours in order to pass their Instrument Flight.
Though, aviation requires various flight and ground school hours and often has rigorous amounts of homework, many find that their passion for flying gets them through.
“The best part about aviation is that I just love flying,” says David Rudy, a freshman aviation major. “I love being in the air…being a part of something that is bigger than yourself.”
But flying isn’t the only experience that HC aviation students enjoy. For some, the science behind aviation is what makes flights exciting.
“Just knowing that you understand the physics behind the lift and that you are in control of it all is incredible,” said Kandel.
In addition to flying, Hesston College aviation students are also required to attend ground school, pass a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 3rd class medical certificate, be fluent and literate in English, meet the applicable aeronautical experimental requirements and be at least 17 years of age.
While three hours of ground school a week can prove to be a challenge, the hardest part about flying for Kandel and Lengacher is retaining the knowledge.
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“Remembering the facts is hard and sometimes it’s hard to stay awake in ground school,” says Rudy, “but you always have to keep an open mind, because a good pilot never stops learning.”